Microsoft Security Essentials review

Microsoft is having a second stab at the anti-virus suite, only this time its package is free. Has it got it right second time around?

Microsoft Security Essentials

Security Essentials is Microsoft's second go at producing a standalone security package for Windows.

It replaces the now-discontinued Windows Live OneCare, but takes a fundamentally different tack. Where OneCare was a commercial package, positioned as a comprehensive security solution, Security Essentials is free and as the name implies keeps things as simple as possible.

In practice, that means a minimal feature set. Security Essentials doesn't use fancy cloud analysis or sandboxing techniques like most commercial antivirus packages. It adds nothing to the standard Windows firewall, and makes no attempt to warn the user away from phishing websites or hijacked pages.

mse1

But it will check the files on your hard disk and intercept known malware before it can wreak havoc. That should be enough to keep you safe from the vast majority of online nasties, be they worms, viruses, Trojans or whatever.

And in our tests, Security Essentials did indeed detect almost all of the malware we pitted it against, picking up 96 per cent of our selection of live files. That's a very creditable score, though Avira's free AntiVir package scored 100 per cent.

The no-frills approach brings some collateral benefits too. In terms of ease of use, Security Essentials is hard to beat. Its interface comprises just four tabs, labelled "Home", "Update", "History" and "Settings". It's laughably easy to get an at-a-glance view of your protection status and launch manual database updates (regular updates come down with Windows Update, making it effortless to manage Security Essentials in a business context). You can also check detected items, and access simple options such specifying folders and file types to ignore.

Featured Resources

Preparing for AI-enabled cyber attacks

MIT technology review insights

Download now

Cloud storage performance analysis

Storage performance and value of the IONOS cloud Compute Engine

Download now

The Forrester Wave: Top security analytics platforms

The 11 providers that matter most and how they stack up

Download now

Harness data to reinvent your organisation

Build a data strategy for the next wave of cloud innovation

Download now

Recommended

Canon imageFormula DR-S150 review: Just walk up and scan
peripherals

Canon imageFormula DR-S150 review: Just walk up and scan

4 Aug 2021
Canon i-Sensys MF744Cdw review: A one-touch wonder
peripherals

Canon i-Sensys MF744Cdw review: A one-touch wonder

29 Jul 2021
Fujitsu ScanSnap iX1400 review: Slick and simple scanning
peripherals

Fujitsu ScanSnap iX1400 review: Slick and simple scanning

29 Apr 2021
Canon imageFormula DR-S130 review: A great choice for remote workers
peripherals

Canon imageFormula DR-S130 review: A great choice for remote workers

15 Feb 2021

Most Popular

RMIT to be first Australian university to implement AWS supercomputing facility
high-performance computing (HPC)

RMIT to be first Australian university to implement AWS supercomputing facility

28 Jul 2021
Square to acquire Afterpay for $29 billion
mergers and acquisitions

Square to acquire Afterpay for $29 billion

2 Aug 2021
Zyxel USG Flex 200 review: A timely and effective solution
Security

Zyxel USG Flex 200 review: A timely and effective solution

28 Jul 2021